What I’ve been up to: Basketball writing

Hello! It has been a while – my bad. I have been writing, I promise!

I keep saying that I will start posting on here more, but it keeps turning out to be a terrible lie. Don’t worry, I have actually been writing more than ever! You just have to know where to look.

As I’ve mentioned before, I write articles for Thunderous Intentions, a Fansided website that is dedicated to the OKC Thunder. I do a couple of articles per week on average.

My articles vary from grading the player’s season performances to giving them all Avengers alter egos. To see everything that I’ve been doing for T.I., click on the link below!

Wil Harrington – Thunderous Intentions

The site that takes most of my writing time currently is the blog for The Basketball Movement. T.B.M. is a hoops training facility in Nixa (formerly Fox Hollow).

I am the sole contributor for this blog, so everything you see there was done by yours truly. I try to crank out five or so pieces per week. Most are about news from high school to the pros, motivational pieces, or T.B.M updates.

To see all of my blog posts, hit the link below!

The Basketball Movement – Blog

Per usual, this is the time in which i try to convince you that I will focus more on uploading content for my personal blog. You may not believe me any more, but I’ll see what I can do anyway. Follow the above sites and keep checking in to stay on top of my wring adventures. Thanks for stopping by!

Oh, and follow me on Twitter @WilHarrington

Baseball fan then and now

I grew up in the days of McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds. Things are different now and so am I.

The Harrington household was definitely baseball-first in terms of sports. Aside from Dad recording Chiefs games to watch on his own time, Cardinals baseball was the dominant sport on our television. In some ways, it seemed like those were baseball’s glory days. Turns out it was mostly steroid’s glory days.

Juicing does not really bother me like it seems to bother a lot of people. It was legal at the time most of them were doing it, so of course the top athletes turned to something like roids to set them apart. Anyway, the point here is that everyone was hitting homers like crazy, especially my childhood hero, Mark McGwire.

As the steroid era closed and McGwire faded away, the Cardinals brought up a new HR champ. Albert Pujols stepped up to fill the void McGuire was leaving with some of the greatest hitting the sport had seen. Long underpaid, Pujols left to chase money out west. Again, I do not blame him in the least. I’m still a huge fan of both Pujols and McGuire.

Photo from NBC Sports

Once Pujols was gone, the game quickly stopped holding my attention. The World Series wins in 2006 and 2011 were the pinnacle as a Cardinals fan. Yearly trips to the playoffs were exciting, yet eventually just routine.

Regular season baseball is ridiculous

When the Cardinals are not in the playoffs, I struggle to take note of anything going on. The regular season is so long that it cannot hold my attention. The games themselves are already crazy-long. I am not going to spend dozens of Summer nights sitting on my couch for hours on end hoping that the Cards get to bat soon.

Going to a game is different. The ballpark atmosphere is a blast, filled with tradition, a sense of Summertime, and delicious, expensive snacks and brews. Making it to a game and having the money to spend is an obvious issue. Dropping empty peanut shells onto my carpet at home just isn’t the same somehow.

I tried fantasy baseball for a while in high school, but it is easily the most tedious of the major fantasy sports. Your players play almost daily, so you need to determine who starts and sits everyday, keeping in mind pitching matchups, stadiums, and weather conditions. For the casual fan, it is too much.

I like the sport, so I’m going to give it another shot

Recently homerun hitting has been on the rise again in Major League Baseball. Hitters like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are bringing the long-ball back. Numerous hitters last year had 30+ homers, which is my kind of baseball if it’s going to keep my attention.

I’ve said before that fantasy is the Rosetta Stone of sports. Playing fantasy forces you to learn a bit more about the players and get more familiar with trends in the sport. I’ve joined a public fantasy baseball league with strangers this year so that I can have a no-strings-attached window into the MLB. My team is extremely Cardinal-heavy 🙂

I’m going to do my best to get back into the sport this season, especially on the StL Cardinals side of things. Maybe baseball could be just the thing I need when I’m rocking my new son to sleep many nights. Or maybe it will continue to bore me and I won’t want to risk falling asleep and falling over onto the little fella. Time will tell!

The Basketball Movement

I have taken over the blog for The Basketball Movement

I’ve spoken about this previously, but you may have noticed that there have been less and less articles posted here. I am preparing to get this blog back on track and produce more original content.

Video game articles I write have been going towards Grown Gaming and Thunder articles I write have been going to Thunderous Intentions. These are both on a volunteer basis.

I am now writing basketball-related articles of all kinds for The Basketball Movement as the sole contributor to their blog. My services earn me a little compensation, so I am now a professional writer!

The Basketball Movement is based out of Nixa in what used to be known as Fox Hollow. They are striving to be the top basketball training service in this part of the country.

I write for them about their services, news from prep to pro, and motivational pieces for athletes or anyone striving to improve their craft.

I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to continued collaboration with The Movement.

As I mentioned, I am looking to ramp up this site again as well, so keep an eye out for new stuff. Thanks for your support! I love you.

Thunderous dunk contest

Photo from businessinsider.com

NBA All-Star weekend is near. The dunk contest is a personal favorite. The Oklahoma City Thunder are another personal favorite.

What if the Oklahoma City Thunder squad held a dunk contest just between themselves? Would Westbrook’s ferocity be too much for the other players to overcome? Paul George has some real dunk contest experience that could be beneficial.

I do my best to come up with how this contest would go in my latest feature for Thunderous Intentions. It is a strange narrative that I think you will enjoy! Just click… HERE.

Thunderous Intentions: The Intriguing Steven Adams

Photo from clutchpoints.com

I have recently become a contributor for thunderousintentions.com! It is a website dedicated to bringing just the news that Oklahoma City Thunder fans want to hear. There are breaking news stories, game previews, postgame analysis, and much more.

I wrote an opinion piece for them explaining that Steven Adams is not only their most interesting player, but possibly one of the most interesting players in the NBA. Read it here:


The Thunder: So Far, So Promising

We are now nearly three weeks into the 2017-18 NBA season. How soon should we begin to assess all of the offseason maneuvers taken by each team? Avery Bradley has had a hot and cold start in Detroit, Paul Millsap has started to look like he’s figuring things out in Denver, and Brook Lopez is only playing 25 minutes per game for the Lakers. There is a lot to dissect if you’re into doing it so soon, but I suppose that’s why you’ve clicked this article. The Thunder are 4-4 as I write this, good for 10th in the West so far (only a win or two from moving up multiple spots). The Cavaliers are 10th in the East and the Spurs are on the outside looking in as well in the West, so you can certainly see that things are bound to change. I don’t care. I want to assess the Thunder anyway.

So far, the big three for the Thunder look pretty good. Carmelo Anthony is leading the team in points per game, which despite his history of studly basket-making skills, is surprising. The general consensus was that Westbrook would remain the alpha dog, Paul George would be the clear-cut number two guy, and Melo would be a catch and shoot stretch big man, taking a bit of a backseat. Taking a backseat has never been Melo’s style, as he demonstrated by fending off emerging star Kristaps Porzingis in New York for scoring looks the last couple of seasons. The pre-season idea was that we would see “Team USA Melo”, meaning efficient scoring mixed with solid defense and an emphasis on rebounding. Hoodie Melo has displayed solid defense, but his rebounding is a bit down while still scoring at a clip we’ve seen from him the last couple of years. Paul George is right where most expected him to be statistically. He has (so far) seen a slight decline in his points, rebounds, and assists, while getting a bump in steals. So where does that leave last year’s NBA MVP?

Photo from news-cdn.wagertalk.com

Westbrook led the NBA in points per game last year at 31.6. He averaged 24 field goal attempts per contest to get there. So far this season, he is averaging 19.5 points and 16 field goal attempts per game. 12 points per game less is a very steep decline no-matter what a player averaged the previous year. The decline in field goal attempts was expected, but is also a pretty staggering difference. Another surprising figure that stands out is a 64% free throw percentage despite still getting almost six attempts per game. This percentage as well as his scoring average are likely to raise and settle into the numbers we have come to expect from one of the association’s top players, but this is a very early assessment after all (which I will likely continue to point out because it really is SO EARLY). The Brodie’s assists are up and he is still nearly averaging a triple-double, so he is getting along in historic fashion despite the uncharacteristic numbers. He is technically on pace to have more trip-dub outings this season than last, if you can believe it.

The Thunder are one of the most defensively efficient teams in the NBA, which is a pleasant surprise. A lot of people like myself said that the key to OKC’s success this year would be a defensive focus and team-oriented mindset. We knew that the offense would be solid between Russ, Melo, and PG-13. There are a lot of capable defenders on the roster – we know that Westbrook and George are tenacious and Andre Roberson is bordering on elite as a wing defender. Steven Adams has never been a top-tier rim protector, but he is solid in the post and has improved his steal and block numbers per game. In fact, Adams has improved across the board much the way people expected he would before last season began, following a strong 2016 postseason campaign. Plus, he is essentially a pirate.

Photo from si.com

As I had mentioned, the new players were expected to bring a healthy punch on offense while playing solid D. With all of the pre-season expectations though came concerns as well. One worry was depth. The starting five looked great, but the bench was a little underwhelming for a team looking to challenge the Warriors’ reign in the West. So far, so good from what I’ve seen off the bench for the Thunder. With Westbrook, you need a backup point guard that can give you a couple of minutes without mental errors while Russ catches his breath before coming back in to breathe more fire – Veteran Raymond Felton fills that role nicely. Alex Abrines has been off to a bit of a slow start, but is a capable shooter that the Thunder need. Jerami Grant has been a bright spot off of the bench playing very good defense and providing his usual energy.

With an intimidating starting lineup, a serviceable backup crew, and one of the NBA’s top defenses, the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking good out of the gate to start the 2017-18 NBA season. Westbrook will only improve as he figures out how to lead his new cast, which is a wild thing to say about a player that is already nearly averaging a triple-double (again). Paul George and Carmelo Anthony already seem surprisingly comfortable and Steven Adams is showing marked improvement, which is important. If you picked the Thunder to be one of the top teams in the NBA, don’t fear, you are looking smart at this point. We still need to see them play some of the league’s best squads, but there have already been more than a few flashes of their potential brilliance. Thunder up.

Missouri State – Why not be a fan?

I know quite a few people – dozens even. Many of them are sports fans, be it professional or collegiate. Some even follow high school sports teams despite not being in high school or having any kids who are either. Why would people do that? It isn’t for me personally because high schoolers are comparatively terrible at sports, covered in acne, and well… mostly children. However, a lot of people though just love to cheer for their hometown team or old high school team, which makes sense.

The aforementioned college sports fans that I know have varied preferences when it comes to the colleges or universities they root for. Living in Missouri, I know fans of Mizzou, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas as well as the classics like Duke, North Carolina, and many more. When people ask me who my favorite college team is, be it basketball, football, or whatever, the answer is the same: the Missouri State Bears. For some reason, people often just snicker and ask for my actual favorite team. My response is always the same: the Missouri State Bears. I don’t necessarily understand why that is so strange.

Now, it should be noted that I’m not the biggest follower of college sports. As I’ve pointed out in the past, I strongly prefer professional sports over all else because it is the game being played at the highest level. That being said, you can’t be a big pro sports fan without being relatively familiar with the college sports scene – that’s where all of the pro prospects come from after all. Getting back to the question of my favorite college team… My answer really confuses people. The reason is of course that MSU isn’t a well-known sports school. They have all the major sports teams and are division I in each. They don’t play in a power conference and haven’t seen a substantial amount of national success. Why be a fan?

I am a fan of Missouri State athletics for much the same reason that many people spend their Friday nights at their old high school. I went to Missouri State and feel a strong sense of school pride. No, I didn’t play collegiate sports or even always do my part in filling the seats for every game. I still spent four (maybe four and a half) years there walking the campus, taking courses, and wearing a lot of maroon and white. We  Really, it would be strange for me to claim any other school than Missouri State when asked who my favorite college team is.

I know a lot of diehard Mizzou fans that have only been to the campus for a few football games, nothing else. I know some OU fans who have most likely never even left the state of Missouri before. People can be fans of teams for random reasons, I get that. I probably only prefer the Cardinals to the Royals because my Dad did. I am a Thunder fan because not long after I became an NBA fan, they relocated to OKC from Seattle, becoming the closest NBA team to me. I also understand that not everyone goes to college, but many are still college sports fans for the fanfare and run-through- a-brick- wall mentality that isn’t always as apparent in pro sports. The point I’m trying to make here is that everyone is entitled to their favorite, so I am justified in having Missouri State as my favorite college team for sports. I may not get to see them on ESPN very often and the football team doesn’t always come out on top, but those are my teams.

The highs and the lows might not include phrases like “national championship” or “one-and- done”, but you just have to adjust your expectations. You don’t expect your hometown class 1 high school team to compete with a class 5 high school team. I don’t expect MSU to beat Alabama in football. Missouri State is clearly too focused on things like the College of Business and academics in general. My alma mater is still my favorite sports school and always will be. Go Bears!

Fantasy: The Rosetta Stone of Sports

Photo from https://twitter.com/dailyfntasy

Fantasy sports have made me a more informed citizen of the United States of America. Granted, they really just make me more knowledgeable about sports in general and I just happen to be a citizen of the USA, but still.

I wasn’t a big sports fanatic as a kid. I watched some baseball, but largely didn’t know what was going on in the world of sports beyond the St. Louis Cardinals. I even started playing sports in 3rd and 4th grade but it was all brand new to me. I never watched basketball or football (so yes, I was awful at the start of both) so I never had much interest. I started watching some basketball in early high school, but it wasn’t until I tried fantasy sports that my passion for the game really took off.

After just a couple of fantasy seasons, I could tell you the starting five players for all of the 30 NBA teams. You had to know who was going to be getting big minutes, who could hit threes for you, or who the next big thing was that you had to pick up for your team. The competition between your friends is the driving force that makes every weekly matchup interesting. There are basketball games essentially every day during NBA season, so you are always checking your phone or computer in the evenings to see if your players are flourishing or floundering. The same goes as you watch your opponent’s team. Oh, and also it makes you swear sometimes.

When I started dating my wife, I knew nothing about football. I could tell quickly that that could get me into some awkward situations. Her family frequently spent Sunday afternoons watching NFL games and I barely knew what a down was or how many points a field goal was worth. I thought back to fantasy basketball and realized that this situation wasn’t as hopeless as it seemed. It took a few seasons, but I got into a league with a bunch of friends in college and my mind was quickly filled with glorious sports knowledge. My wife’s family claims me in public, and I’m sure that’s the reason.

I am from Missouri and am a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Naturally, I know more about the Chiefs than I do any other team in the league. A coworker and I were recently having a conversation about our fantasy teams and we quickly realized how ridiculous it was that we were able to have the discussion we were having due to the randomness of the players we were talking about. We named eight or so starters on offense for the Minnesota Vikings. Why on Earth would we know about, let alone be discussing the starters for Minnesota? Fantasy knowledge, baby. Fantasy knowledge.

Speaking of conversations, guys don’t always have a lot to say to each other. I know there are exceptions to that and interests vary, but in my experience, you can almost always bring up sports. Sports are a nearly universal language and it is much easier to speak it if you play in fantasy leagues. I am confident in my ability to hold down an airport conversation with a fella from Orlando about his favorite basketball team or a gal from New Orleans about her favorite quarterback.

I’m not telling you to take your kids out of school and enroll them in a fantasy league, even though that would be hilarious. I’m just telling you that if you are a sports fan or would like to be, I recommend deepening your knowledge with some good ol’ virtual team management. It will make you so obnoxiously smart that people will start to roll their eyes with with jealousy when you launch into a spiel about basketball statistics or a football team’s third string running back. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to trash talk those closest to you. If you take nothing else away from this: NEVER pass up an opportunity to trash talk those closest to you.

NBA Preview 2017-18

Tuesday October 17th begins the new NBA season. It will kick off with some solid matchups and a lot of familiar faces in new places. The defending champion Golden State Warriors look largely the same (ridiculous), while the rest of the league has been scrambling to either form teams to compete or to start building for the future. A few contenders have emerged, but another championship is essentially Golden State’s to lose.

Let’s start by looking to the East, where most of the offseason changes happened at the very top. Last year’s Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers swapped star point guards with the #1 seed Boston Celtics. Kyrie Irving now looks to lead Boston alongside fellow newcomer Gordon Hayward, a first time All-Star last year for the Jazz. Isiah Thomas, some other guys, a 2018 first round draft pick, and a washing machine were traded to take Irving’s place. Oh, and the Cavs added James’ buddy Dwyane Wade too. Multiple Finals appearances were not enough to make Irving want to stay with LeBron in Cleveland, and we won’t have to wait long to see the two clash, as the two teams face each other to tip-off the season.

Photo from usatoday.com

The Raptors, Wizards, Bucks, and Heat bring back squads that resemble what we saw last year. The young Bucks are another year older and hope that Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton can stay on the floor all year to help them challenge the top teams in the East. The Wizards finally got a healthy season from shooting guard Bradley Beal and are going to continue to lean on their strong backcourt. The Hawks, Pacers, and Bulls appear to be entering a rebuilding stage, while the Philadelphia 76ers try to emerge from one. After multiple years of tanking to acquire draft picks, the 76ers have built up a very solid team of potential stars. Only time will tell how quickly they can grow and compete.

Out in the Western Conference, as I mentioned, it is the Warriors who look to reign supreme. Last year’s addition of Kevin Durant took the already star-powered team to unheard of heights. By the time the playoffs rolled around, they were clicking and a 70+ win season could be on the horizon this year. The 61-win Spurs remain much the same, though they did add Rudy Gay to fill in some of the scoring void left by an under-performing LaMarcus Aldridge. They will again be lead by the man with the world’s largest hands: MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard.

The Clippers dealt Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets for some role players, highlighted by Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams, who alongside newcomer Danilo Gallinari, will look to keep L.A. relevant after losing Redick and Crawford as well. The Rockets will be a top team in the West again led by bearded scoring savant, James Harden. They hope to see young center Clint Capela become DeAndre Jordan-esque when paired with Paul. The Thunder made plenty of moves as well, acquiring Paul George and Carmelo Anthony while only giving up essentially a rack of basketballs and half a pair of Jordan’s. Adding these pieces to MVP Russell Westbrook’s squad could put them near the top of the standings, though they will have depth issues to address.

Photo from ftw.usatoday.com

The Denver Nuggets, with the improvement of Nikola Jokic and addition of Paul Millsap will fight to enter the playoffs, which they just missed last year (arguably due to the legalization of marijuana). The Pelicans hope to see their frontcourt tandem of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins pay off as well. The Timberwolves will likely be one of the most improved teams, having added Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague to their young core of talented players. The Jazz and Grizzlies will both take steps back, as the Lakers and Suns look to take steps forward as they develop their young players. Lavar Ball will have beef with everyone.

This was undeniably the busiest NBA offseason as far as big-name player movement. “The Decision” by LeBron to go to Miami in 2010 seemed to have kicked off a new era in the NBA in which the players choose to exercise more control of which team they are on. So many players on new teams will be a little nuts. We will also be seeing some small logos on many team’s jerseys, which is a first. The league has cut down on back-to-back games for teams and has put punishments in place for teams who rest star players for nationally televised contests. Teams have also been given slimmer chances at top draft picks for losing, to discourage intentional tanking. The format for the All-Star game has changed in hopes to make it more competitive. There have been some other tweaks, but you’ve probably already stopped caring.

This should be a wild season! I’ll be tweeting about it pretty constantly, so don’t forget to tune into the games and follow your favorite blogger on Twitter @WilHarrington 

My Man Crush

I love Blake Griffin.

… and yes, that’s pretty weird. I had my eye on the high-flying basketball star since his days at Oklahoma. I have never watched much college basketball, but this huge red-haired fellow soaring through the air to dunk on anybody that was foolish enough to get in his way; I found that quite noteworthy. I remember one particular dunk in which he hit his head on the backboard, which doesn’t happen every day.

He went number one overall in the 2009 NBA draft to the Los Angeles Clippers, historically one of the worst teams in the League. During the Summer League and pre-season, Griffin tore it up. He was already producing highlight-worthy dunks and making everyone around him look like they playing sand basketball (which would be just… terrible). In the final pre-season game, he hurt his knee landing after another dunk and had to have season-ending surgery. I was sad.

Blake and I running a fast break

The next year would be his true “rookie season” and I of course placed him squarely on my fantasy team. I watched his first game and he started it off with an alley-oop jam for his first NBA basket. I wet myself. His rookie season was filled with some of the best in-game dunks I have I ever seen on any level. He was a fantasy surprise to most, though his free throw percentage was pretty low. I was so smitten with the monster dunks, that I didn’t care even a little bit. He average 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds (basketball-reference.com) and won rookie of the year honors, being the first rookie All-Star selection since Tim Duncan. I was hooked, and he overtook Steve Nash as my favorite player.

He has now played seven seasons and has been on my fantasy team every year but one (for better or for worse). The rebounds his rookie season would wind up being a career high and it turns out 22 points per game would be par for the course through his career. He has however steadily raised his free throw percentage almost every season, going from 64% as a rookie to 76% last season (basketball-reference.com). Injuries have unfortunately plagued Griffin through his career, especially the last three seasons. His knee issues have definitely limited his highlight-reel dunks as his career has gone on, but his handles, passing, and improved jump shot have helped to keep him at an elite level when healthy.

Blake and I casually chilling in my man cave

He won me over with the dunks, but his dedication to continuous improvement, his likable personality, and his strong jaw have helped my man-crush continue through the years. Blake has done stand-up comedy, produced some hilarious commercials, and kept his social media game strong. He has a great personality for L.A. and has made the once irrelevant Clippers franchise into a perennial contender.

As the season nears, Griffin will have a lot of pressure to lead the team with the off-season departure of Chris Paul. I will do my best to draft him again in fantasy this year, possibly at the expense of my team due to his injury-prone ways. I can’t help it though; I love the guy. I am forming some new favorite players as well, such as the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, Blake Griffin has cemented his status as one of my all-time favorites no matter what.